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the Russian general encamped for the winter on the
plain of Moghan, with the entire country to the north
in his possession. Aga Mohamed was preparing to take
the field in the spring, when the Empress Catherine died,
the army was withdrawn, and the Russian peril disappeared.
The Shah, delighted at this extraordinary piece of
good fortune, resolved to invade Georgia again. He
was within sixty miles of the Araxes when the inhabitants
of Shisha, who had expelled their governor, begged him
to take possession of the fortress. After a forced march
he found the Aras in flood ; but his men crossed it,
partly in boats and partly by swimming, and Shisha at
last fell into his hands.
The Assassination of Aga Mohamed Shah, A.H. 12 n
(1797).—Three days after the capture of this stronghold,
the Shah was disturbed by the noise of a quarrel between
two of his personal servants, and ordered that both should
be at once put to death. Sadik :Khan Shakaki interceded
for them, and on the ground that it was the night of
Fridayl and sacred to prayer, the execution of the sentence
was deferred until the fallowing morning. With folly
so extreme that it almost'-suggests mental derangement,
Aga Mohamed allowed the condemned men meanwhile
to perform their duties about his person. At night, with
the aid of a third accomplice, they assassinated their
master. Like his victim, Shah Rukh, he died in the
sixty-third year of his age.
His Character.—Thanks to Malcolm we have a life-
like portrait of the Eunuch-Shah. At a distance his
slight form resembled that of a youth, but a close in-
spection revealed a beardless and shrivelled face horrible
to contemplate. Yet he was a remarkable man, and his
keen insight into character, his sagacity, patience, and
courage secured to him the throne of Persia in spite of
his physical disabilities. Malcolm states that his three
ruling passions were power, avarice, and revenge, but
that he was able to subordinate everything to his passion
for power. This was in the first instance personal, but
it also aimed at making the Kajars the royal tribe. Seeing
1 The night of Friday begins at sunset on Thursday.